In the aftermath of the pandemic, the engineering and manufacturing industries are beginning to bounce back. With a clearer focus on flexibility and loyalty, companies across the sector are looking to increase awareness around the breadth of available roles.
In addition, we’re seeing an increase in the demand for professionals and graduates, as competition for talent continues to rise and businesses look for professionals who are passionate and committed to innovating the future.
The sector is experiencing substantial post-pandemic growth, and as such it’s an exciting time for those looking to start their engineering and manufacturing journeys, and be part of an increasingly diverse workforce.
Analysing the market
Engineering and manufacturing businesses once again are looking at ways to attract and retain talent to ensure future innovation. We’re currently battling a skills shortage, hampered by an ageing workforce, an economic shift, and a lack of careers awareness across all roles and regions. That said, throughout the market, we’re seeing a significant increase in computer numerical control (CNC) machining jobs that were affected by the pandemic, with roles in the automotive and aviation industries returning to pre-pandemic levels.
In the South East especially, there’s been a large uptake in quality roles in the last year, including electronics engineering roles, as more and more businesses actively seek new recruits. The biggest challenge for employers will be in how they promote opportunities. A larger focus on finding creative ways to attract and sway jobseekers to take up a new challenge is paramount.
There’s also a need to upskill and reskill the current workforce, which includes both digital skills and the ability to work across multiple disciplines.
Engineering and Manufacturing Expert
Similarly, external candidates now have a multitude of options open to them in an increasingly digitised sector, and are encouraged to take time to research different career paths and potential employers.
It’s important for professionals to have a clear understanding of roles, duties and company expectations to ensure, when making make a move, that it’s the right one. Progression within the engineering and manufacturing sectors will depend on a candidate’s own ambitions and drive, alongside whether to progress down a technical, management or commercial pathway.
Due to surging inflation and rising energy prices gripping the nation, companies need to be mindful with their business models, especially when it comes to recruitment. For example, there have been some issues for manufacturers who are experiencing increased material prices and problems procuring the materials they need, which, in turn, has outlined the need to employ high-quality professionals who are able to navigate such situations.
Meanwhile, the engineering sector is establishing a culture of efficiency and resilience to connect and support new talent. Over the past 12 months, engineers have demonstrated their expertise, agility and adaptability in the face of adverse challenges created by rising demand.
As part of a talent retention strategy, companies should have a robust interview process in place to make sure they have allocated enough time to successfully recruit candidates – any delays in reviewing CVs, booking interviews and making offers will see jobseekers go elsewhere. The onboarding process should also support the candidate’s transition into their new job, to show that the business values and appreciates their contribution.
For those who are looking to move roles within the sector, it’s a great time to be an advocate for the industry and play a part in bridging the skills gap. Sharing knowledge, experience and passion through sector events, on-the-job training or social media, can help inspire those considering their career options.
The expectations on employers
Employees now have far greater expectations from their employers, and not necessarily just around remuneration. More recently, we’ve seen an increase in jobseekers look for enhanced benefits including flexible hours, job sharing, profit schemes, enhanced pensions and the ability to buy extra holiday. Engineering firms that can offer one or more of these benefits will increase their chances of attracting the best candidates.
Of those benefits, flexibility is a relatively new concept in manufacturing, due to the majority of duties needing to be carried out onsite. To counteract this, many firms are now offering flexible working around core operating hours to open up the candidate pool further, while job sharing has also become prevalent.
Engineers still favour additional benefits over salary, with industry professionals now seeming to prioritise stability, loyalty and job security when looking at roles.
Employers are encouraged to review and evaluate current working conditions to offer employees a positive and inclusive work environment, which, at the same time, will enhance the ability to attract new talent.
Engineering and Manufacturing Expert, Reed